Thursday, May 26, 2011


Once you get past the famous names in the latest Gallup poll of GOP voters' presidential preferences (Romney 17%, Palin 15%, Paul 10%, Gingrich 9%), take a look at who's #5:

Herman Cain, at 8% -- ahead of media darlings Tim Pawlenty (6%) and Jon Huntsman (who's at -- tee-hee -- 2%).

Steve Benen says:

Herman Cain ... has a lot more support than I would have expected....

The conventional wisdom is that Cain -- a former pizza company executive with no experience in public office at any level -- is better left ignored, no more credible that Johnson or Roemer. A couple of more polls like this one, though, and those assumptions will be need of some major revisions.

Dave Weigel says:

...Cain has come out of the gate making knowledge blunders (not knowing what the "right of return" is, for example), getting generally dismissive coverage. There is no team of reporters covering his every move on the trail, as there is for Huntsman. There's no massive scrum outside his appearances, as there is for Pawlenty. And yet he's outpolling Pawlenty.

But as Tucker Carlson said when Cain announced:

Republicans love Herman Cain. Herman Cain is probably the most conservative person running in this primary.

"Conservative" in this case means he hits every wingnut pleasure center. He says Obama isn't a patriot! He says he wouldn't have a Muslim cabinet member or appoint a Muslim judge! He wants to abolish the capital gains tax! He calls Planned Parenthood "Planned Genocide"! He's hated Democratic health care reforms since the Clinton years!

And, as I said over the weekend, he offers right-wing whites the chance to admire themselves for supporting a black person. That's gotta count for something.

Anyone who's surprised by this really, really has to spend much less time listening to the inside-the-Beltway feedback loop and spend a lot more time lurking in the fever swamps where right-wingers congregate. If you watch Fox News, lurk at Free Republic or Fox Nation or the Blaze, or listen to talk radio, you know Cain is deeply admired among the crazy base.

And you'll know something else, too: nobody likes Huntsman. Nobody likes Pawlenty much, but at least he's trying to impress actual Republican voters. Huntsman seems to think the franchise is limited to Beltway pols, pundits, and other influence-peddlers. He thinks they're going to pick the nominee. They aren't -- not this year, any more than they picked the GOP Senate nominees in Arizona and Alaska and Colorado and Delaware.

Can Cain win this thing? I doubt it -- he has no money, and that's not likely to change. But I guarantee he'll have outpolled Huntsman, by far, when all the votes are tallied. And he may be one of the last candidates standing.

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